Wine review — Bay of Fires, Peter Lehmann & Clonakilla

Bay of Fires Tasmania Riesling 2007 $30
The 2007 rieslings look terrific, right across the country – from Mount Barker in the West to the variety’s Clare and Eden Valley heartland, to Canberra, and way down south to Tassie. In a recent tasting Bay of Fires stole the show, even from stars like Grosset and Petaluma. And for once a professional judge’s palate aligned with those of consumers – and that’s not all that common. After the tasting, I put the top four wines to a table of consumers aged 21 to 56, and all five preferred the Tassie wine. Part of the Hardy portfolio, and made by Fran Austin, it’s an irresistible, ultra-fine, delicate-but-intense aperitif style. It’s to be released in December.

Peter Lehman Barossa Valley

  • Shiraz Grenache 2006 $12.50
  • Shiraz 2005 $19.50
  • Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 $19.50
  • Mentor’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 $38

These are just knockout wines and great value, delivering the Barossa’s great generosity and softness. Grenache in the Shiraz Grenache blends gives attractive aromatic high notes and great buoyancy to a palate that’s all juicy fruit and pure pleasure right now. The straight shiraz shows the earthy, chocolaty richness of this regional specialty – and the tender tannins that makes even a solid vintage like 2005 so enjoyable and satisfying now. And a couple of times each decade cabernet succeeds well in the Barossa. Lehmann’s 2004 is pure-varietal, elegant, generous and soft, all in one. The flagship, ‘Mentor’, from the cool 2002 vintage is denser, varietal, amazingly youthful at five years and built to age for decades.

Clonakilla Canberra District Shiraz Viognier 2006 $80
Not all wines measure up to the trophies and rave reviews they receive. But true champs, like Clonakilla, cut the mustard year after year – both with critics and consumers prepared to pay a premium. Another test is that of time. Does a wine age well? In a recent Canberra tasting Tim Kirk showed his ten Shiraz Viogniers from 1997 to the current release 2006. Within a generally refined, elegant theme, the wines reflected their growing seasons, with the slightly green 2000 marking the coolest end of the spectrum and the burly (comparatively) 2003 the warmest. For me, highlights in this stunning line up were 1998, 2001, 2005 and 2006.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2007